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EETE JULAUG 2015

Executive interview “We spend 50 percent of development costs on a product after launch” 5By Christoph Hammerschmidt G, IoT, smartphone security and more: Future technology generations pose increasing challenges to the measurement equipment for development and production engineers. Roland Steffen, Head of the Test and Measurement Division and Executive Vice President of test equipment provider Rohde & Schwarz explains how the company prepares for these challenges. EETimes Europe: 5G wireless communications technologies represent an important emerging topic in today’s market environment. How does Rohde & Schwarz see this development, and what new worlds of application does it open up? How is Rohde & Schwarz preparing for 5G? Roland Steffen: Naturally everything is expected to be much better with each new generation of wireless communications. 5G mobile communications is currently more in the marketing phase than the technology phase, and it is still unclear what direction it will take. The technology is about data rates and bandwidths. Another important topic is latency. This means reaction times should be as short as possible. But all this will be a gradual development process. Probably, mobile network operators will first improve their established networks. They will optimize frequency use and then gradually work their way toward higher frequencies. There is currently a lot of talk about 60 GHz. But that is for indoor applications, as such frequencies have a very limited range. Outdoors, we will likely be dealing with 20 GHz or 40 GHz, depending on which frequencies the regulator makes available. 60 GHz is more likely to be the last phase of development. There is still a lot of research and development to be done in this area. EETE: 5G will also enable new network structures, and connections won’t necessarily be organized hierarchically. More importantly, it will be possible to form ad hoc networks. What is it about? RS: At Rohde & Schwarz, we are concentrating on the air interface, but the challenges of 5G are behind the base stations. These networks will transmit massive quantities of data that have to be processed. That is why there will be a very well networked system behind the base stations. As far as the technology is concerned, the antennas will certainly be an issue at higher frequencies. There is currently a discussion about MIMO (multiple input, multiple output). Mobile phone manufacturers already have several antennas in their devices. The higher the frequencies, the smaller you can make the antennas. That takes us into the field of massive MIMO and beamforming. A mobile phone might have 64 antennas that generate a controlled antenna beam. The antenna would orient itself toward the access point based on where the user takes the device. This creates new challenges in terms of testing. Up to now there has only been one antenna and one antenna cable and that is where the tester is connected. It is unclear what this would look like with 64 antennas. Roland Steffen, Head of the Test and Measurement Division and Executive Vice President at Rohde & Schwarz. EETE:: How could it look from a technical perspective? RS: Such devices are currently measured with a robotic arm that moves along the antenna beam. That is very time consuming. You can of course pack a large number of sensors into a test chamber, but that is no less expensive. If you have a spherical test setup, then you need the same number of receivers as sensors. Plus there are many challenges in production, development and research. In the research phase there is no time pressure when taking measurements so you might be able to afford a robotic arm, but it’s a different story in production. EETE:: In addition to 5G, one of the most prominent current trends in radiocommunications is the Internet of Things (IoT), which frequently runs via wireless connections and will require new wireless communications standards. How does this impact your business? Does it open up new business opportunities for you? RS: Considering that there are more machines than people on this planet, IoT should actually boost our business. However, the modules that are to be used for this are often based on technologies that are already available. GSM, for example, is still very widespread. IoT applications typically communicate only limited data volumes at low data rates. Smart meters are a good example. They transmit the status of electricity meters every once in a while, and a few bytes suffices. This also applies to vending machines that report when they need to be restocked. That also doesn’t require large data volumes. Today, the Internet of Things consists mostly of applications that ope- 16 Electronic Engineering Times Europe July-August 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE JULAUG 2015
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